I’ve been in therapy for seven months now and have only just uttered the dreaded words borderline personality disorder (BPD). This is my attempt at helping you to understand where I’m coming from and why I do the things I do.
Here are some things I want my loved ones to know about my experience with BPD:
1. I’m not a bad person.
My behavior is sometimes fuelled by my disordered thinking patterns. I do things some might think are heartless, manipulative, rude, dangerous and downright horrible. And I’m not using my disorder as an excuse! I’m just trying to tell you those things are not the sum total of me. They are a product of a legitimate disordered way of thinking that can be hard to understand. So try to see past the behavior and see the person you love under it, because I’m still here, just trying to control my brain.
2. It’s OK if you can’t understand me.
This is not me “just being negative again.” This isn’t a teenage temper tantrum where “nobody gets what it’s like to be me.” This is a tried and tested theory. Unless you have a personality disorder you will not understand one. Not in any logical sense. And the main reason? Because my disorder makes no logical sense.
3. My impulses are hard to fight.
When I get a random impulse to do something, it feels like an immediate requirement. It isn’t a want, it’s a need, and if I can’t do what I’m being told to do I become despondent, depressed and probably seem sulky from the outside. But inside I’m fighting a terrible battle of wills. My impulses let me filter out negative emotions when I’m unable to deal with them in a healthy way.
4. I’m not emotionally shallow.
In fact, I’m the complete opposite.
One of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder is “splitting.” For me, an example of this is when I connect with someone and then almost immediately (sometimes) disconnect from them. I go from idolizing them to never speaking about them again. Understand this doesn’t mean I don’t care about people when we’re connected. In fact, sometimes I need to force myself to disconnect from someone because the emotion I feel towards them is too much to cope with.
5. When I’m down I’m not just down.
My pain is sometimes like a combination of black hole and a Dementor from Harry Potter. It can feel darker than black and deeper than the ocean. It feeds itself and grows bigger and bigger. It feels like all I can do is lie there in a bundle of tears until it goes away. So when I’m feeling down, know I’m not just sad.
6. I’m not “just being dramatic” either.
I can practically hear your eyes rolling at that last point. But I’m being 100 percent serious. Being told to “woman up,” “stop being ridiculous” or other tips to “just stop being depressed” doesn’t work.
7. I play favorites.
When I connect with somebody they are elevated beyond everyone else. If you ever feel slighted, ignored or like you’re second best, it’s probably because I only have eyes for my current favorite. But it isn’t a conscious decision to choose them over you. It won’t even occur to me connecting to someone else is an option. My “choice” is never with malicious intent.
8. I have fear of abandonment.
This means if I’m “connected” to you and go for periods of time without hearing from you, I might become panicked, depressed, irrational and bitter towards you.
9. I’m scared of losing you.
I’m irrationally terrified of upsetting you, making you hate me, annoying you and making you leave me.
10. I need reassurance daily.
I need to feel loved (especially by my favorite). I need to feel like I haven’t destroyed our relationship by being such a “horrible person” (or even by saying something I irrationally interpret as stupid). I need to know you’re here for me and you haven’t disappeared since we last spoke.
Living with BPD thinking isn’t an easy task. It can be painful, frustrating and dangerous for my health. I hope now you can understand me and my BPD brain a little better.