I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in June 2015 after nearly ten years of struggling with periods of intense depression, anxiety and emotional difficulties (you can read a bit more about my mental health story here or here if you’d like). At the time I was just fucking relieved to have been given a diagnosis. You know what I mean?
After months and months of being told that it was ‘just depression’ and that it would pass and that I should just ‘“try getting back to normal life as soon as possible” by several doctors and so-called mental health nurses, hearing a psychiatrist say that it was extremely likely that I was suffering with BPD (and had been for much of my adult life) was the PRAISE JESUS HALLE-FUCKING-LUJA moment that I’d been looking for. I finally felt some kind of strange validation, like finally I had a tangible reason why I felt the way that I did and why I had the thoughts I had. I had something to grasp onto. I wasn’t crazy. I have a LEGIT disorder, y’all (insert the praise hands emoji here).
Since going away and researching the disorder a bit more my feelings about having a diagnosis of BPD have become a tad more complicated since the days where I was ‘just’ struggling with depression and anxiety. Here are a few things that having BPD means for me.
(Just FYI – Please bare in mind that my diagnosis of BPD is intermingled with a bit of depression, anxiety, a sprinkling of perfectionism, a history of disordered eating and probably a dash of narcissism in there too. Your experience of BPD may be completely different to mine and my experience with BPD certainly doesn’t speak completely for the many out there who also live with the disorder).
Life with BPD means…
Moments of extreme, undiluted rage for seemingly no reason at all
Feeling too much or not at all
Volatile relationships with family, friends and prospective partners
Dating is largely unenjoyable because of the intense paranoia, fear of rejection, abandonment and slight obsession that seems to happen whenever I try to meet someone new
Being told by doctors that they “don’t really know what to do” with me
An addictive personality
Getting myself into extremely unsafe situations with people that I don’t know in places I usually don’t remember being
Feeling on top of the world one moment and then feeling suicidal the next
Struggling with alcohol consumption
Reacting completely inappropriately to what I perceive to be rejection
That receiving a text from someone I care about – or not receiving a text at all – can make me ridiculously happy or overwhelmingly paranoid and upset
Being terrified of being alone for too long but hating feeling ‘trapped’ by other people
Being told I’m a “drama queen”
Being told I’m “overreacting”
Being told I’m “too much sometimes”
Being told to “just calm down” and to “stop being silly”
Being told to “snap out of it”
Being told I’m “crazy”
Being told I’m “such a psycho”
Being told that I “shouldn’t be feeling like this”
Having very public meltdowns when things get too much
Overwhelming paranoia that I may just be the most hated person in the entire world
Walking around in a brain fog for much of the time
Moments of extreme elation followed by moments of absolute despair
Just. Wanting. To. Die.
Not knowing what the hell I’m doing in life and yet knowing exactly know what I want at the same time
A life of constant polarities
Not really knowing who I am most of the time
Having no clear sense of identity
Trying to fit into whatever social circle I’m currently with but always feeling like an outsider that doesn’t belong
A constant need for approval followed by not giving a flying fuck what someone else thinks
Either wanting to be the biggest success story ever or wanting to fall apart so spectacularly that you have no choice but to kill yourself or get admitted to hospital
Never feeling good enough no matter how hard you try
Never feeling understood
Quietly resenting anyone who appears to have their shit together
Periods of manic productivity followed by days of not even being able to brush my teeth or get out of bed
Self harming since I was 13
Several suicide attempts
Dropping out of college without A-Levels, not going to University and countless numbers of days off work
Crippling anxiety, depression, dissociation, paranoia, perfectionism
Wondering how the hell I’m even still alive much of the time
A completely irrational fear of abandonment
Relying too heavily on one person in particular eventually pushing them away
Hiding away from my friends and then getting irrationally angry when I see them on social media doing things without me
Being told I’m “high maintenance”
Constantly trying to conform to other people’s ideas of perfection or success
Pursuing new hobbies and then quitting because I’m not ‘the best’
Not knowing whether I actually like someone or whether I’m just attracted to the attention that they give me
Feeling discriminated against by healthcare professionals because of my diagnosis of BPD.
Not receiving counselling support because I’m told that I’m “too high risk”.
Being told by numerous people not to get “all fatal attraction” on them when I tell them that I’ve been diagnosed with BPD.
Feeling sick to my stomach when I see posts on Facebook describing how people with BPD are basically emotionally abusive, manipulative, destructive, horribly narcissistic and destroy the lives of everyone around them (and then feeling even more sick when I start reading the comments on said post).
Feeling horribly misunderstood constantly because no one knows how to treat or act around me the moment they realise that I have BPD.
Being told I’m either “too ill” to get help or that I’m “not ill enough” to access the right treatment, support and therapy that I need to get better.
I could go on and on for DAYS as what I’ve written is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how I feel about my diagnosis of BPD and what it truly means to me. But that wouldn’t help anyone, it’d get pretty boring and simply wallowing in self-pity isn’t going to do me or let’s face it, you my dear reader, any good!
I would, however, like to finish this post in a positive way.
Borderline Personality Disorder is completely treatable.
SHOCK, HORROR. I know. Let me say it again. It’s completely fucking treatable.
Unfortunately because it’s such a stigmatised, misunderstood and largely sidelined mental illness it gets overlooked and misinterpreted by the media meaning that people have all of these crazy ideas about what BPD actually is in turn meaning that those of us who are suffering with the disorder rarely get access to the right level of support and treatment that we need to recover and live a ‘normal’ life.
So yeah. It’s treatable. You can recover (I sure as hell fully intend to recover because living like this is as about as much fun as walking across a minefield and being blown up). So don’t lose hope! Educate yourself. Seek out the treatment in your area that’s right for you (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is something that you can start doing by yourself at home as is practicing mindfulness and meditation) and do as much as you possibly can to overcome the stigma that society bestows on you by proving to yourself and others that it’s possible to be successful, happy and healthy whilst living with and recovering from BPD. I know as such as hell that’s what I’m going to be doing!